Friday, August 3, 2007

Diamond Duck

Do they have cricket player trading cards?

At least the day was sunny and warm and the beer was cold and American (someone surprisingly brought Sam Adams).

Yes, the long-anticipated cricket match between my magazine and The Hated Rival (THR) finally happened on Monday. No, I and my colleagues did not pull a stunning upset. We lost 155-96, which is reasonably respectable although THR took it easy on us after a while.

I'll do my best to explain cricket terminology and rules, but the essential thing to understand is each batter gets 1 out and normally keeps batting until they get out. So it's disaster if a batter gets out after a few pitches (bowls is the proper term) and some batters can score 100+ or even 200+ runs. (We had a rule where a batter "retired" once they reached 50 runs--speeds the game and makes sure most people bat). My magazine took the field first and we actually had only 3 guys from the magazine--the rest were friends of Andrew, the head of out office. Plus we had Andrew's son and another player's son, both under 10 I believe!

The cricket field is like a baseball field but with a single running lane in the middle of the field. A batter stands at the "plate"--the place where 3 poles stand up straight and two other poles rest on the 3. These are the wickets (the 3 poles) and the stumps. The pitcher (bowler) throws the ball trying to hit the wickets and knock the stumps off, making an out. The batter must defend the wickets so much of cricket is simply blocking the ball until there's a bad pitch that you can hit hard. Remember if the wickets are hit the batter is done for the day. If the batter does hit the ball, he can choose to run where the bowler pitched from--and a runner at that spot must also run to the home plate. Either the batter or runner can be gotten out if a field throws and hits the wickets at either end. Confused yet?

Well, THR started off with 2 great batters and quickly pile up 70-80 runs before we started to slow them down. Since getting 10 outs, which means a game is over, can take a long time we set a limit on the number of pitches/bowls. By the time, THR ended, it had 155 runs. Many people find cricket boring and I can see why--I perhaps touched the ball in the field maybe 8 times in 2 hours. I almost threw out a runner but the umpire said he was safe. I also made a sad debut as a bowler. Some bowl fast, over 80mph, and some are slow bowlers but make the ball hop and twist--did I forget to mention one throws the ball over hand without bending the elbow and usually bounces the ball once before it reaches the batter. It's an awkward windmilling motion that one does not pick up quickly. In any case, they finally let me pitch after the 8 year old boy did and I'm embarrassed to say he was so much better than I. I didn't get any outs but THR scored few runs while I pitched because I was so wild--it's not easy to throw without bending the elbow!

Here I am trying to bowl--notice the young boy in the field. He was so much better than I!

After the THR batted it was time for tea--well, beer, cake and sandwiches, but it was still oddd to take such a social break in the middle of the game. Suitably refreshed, our side started to get ready to bat, whcih meant putting on padded gloves and leg protectors and a "box"--a cup. The cricket ball is harder than a baseball and it can bowled very fast. One does not want to get hit in the family jewels without some protection. I also put on my Red Wings jersey for good look--one player on THR commented it was "quite a loud top".

Andrew was the first to bat--oh my, it was tragic. THR has some very good, very fast bowlers and on the first pitch, Andrew swung, missed, and watched helplessly as the stumps were smashed off his wickets. He was out with any runs on the first bowl, an embarrassment known as a Golden Duck. He walked off the field so slowly and disgusted. Even sadder, KT just happened to snap a photo at the right moment to capture the event.

Andrew realizes he has a Golden Duck

That set the tone. Nature's first bowler smashed 3 wickets (outs) in his first 6 pitches and those were our best batters. We stopped the bleeding slowly and began to score runs as Nature brought in other bowlers but the outs lept building up. Finally, it was my turn. Our runner got caught so I came on as a runner, not as a batter (both offensive players carry bats because if you run between wickets you might end up at the batting wicket). Right away, our batter smashed the ball through the infield and we were both off running. We both ran to the opposite wicket and back, scoring 2 runs, and I yelled "Hold" to indicate we should stop running--the outfield had gotten to the ball. But the batter thought we could score another run so he kept running and ended up at the same wicket as me. Once I realized that, I had to run to the opposite wicket, but the ball beat me easily and I was out--WITHOUT even getting to bat once. It was even sadder than Andrew--and is known as a Diamond Duck. I trudged off the field in shame as KT looked around asking what happened!

The remaining batters fought valiantly as Andrew and I fumed on the sidelines and drank beer--but we eventually reached out pitch limit and were short by 60 runs. Oh well, Andrew just asked me yesterday if I wanted to play in another match next month. Maybe I'll get to bat thus time!
More cricket pictures here.


Scientific journals measure their influence by a measuremnt called impact factor. When my publication's cricket defeat seemed inevitable, we changed the scorebaord to reflect the 2007 impact factors for each team--we win 31-26!

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